The Half Widow
A good attempt; given more time might have been better.
AJAZ UL HAQUE
I begin with a straight word of congratulation to the author. Two congratulations actually. One for beginning and the other for finishing the book The Half Widow.
Novel is a piece of imagination. But there is a difference between the kind of imagination which Shafi Ahmad has taken as a tool. This imagination is paradoxically real. It borders somewhere around the fact and the fiction. The characters can be unreal, even the language may be unreal. The plot too needs creation. The conversations may not all have literally happened an that is where the author appears. But amongst all this `unreality', we have everything real. The landscape, the setting, even the story. He doesn't write about levitating carpets or flying chariots or fairies in the heaven, he writes about a situation, a locale, a people, a problem – everything exists. Not much to imagine, the details are all matter-of-fact.
The author describes how the newly recruited commanders, the gunmen were treated like grooms. He portrays the agony our women had to go through. He takes a dig at academics too. The marriage party scene, the idiom of the driver, the lingo of the passengers and everything we come across in the novel are the experiences the author shares with his readers as a common past. And shared past is the shared joy, the shared pain. The whole story is to be seen and studied against a background we all are posted against. So our novels (including this one) are our lives. We as his readers are actually (to make it sync with the title of the book) half-authors.
It's a well deserved publication though not without shortcomings. One good point about it is the clarity of language which is understandable even to an average English reader. There are no obfuscations, no florid prose, no over-done rhetorical constructions – nothing that adds turbidity to the text. The words used are lucid and convey everything what the author wants to convey. But that is half the story. Since the book falls into the genre of literature, so as a creative piece of art, it needed to be a touch tighter, brighter, crisper and profounder from a literary point of view. When you are writing a novel, you are not just writing, you are committing an act of literature. Chronicles or reports have to be clear only, but novels must be clear and arresting. Ear-grating repetitions, off-putting loosely strung sentences, free-floating cliches take the sheen away. It makes your prose look loose and limp. To make your piece warmer it needs a greater rigour. On that particular count, the author has been a bit complacent. You don't prepare such treats quite often. More time, more effort would have made it more relishing.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 9 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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